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Conflict of Interest Issue Dismissed in Tusten

By Sue Hallock
NARROWSBURG — April 27, 2007 — At the April 9 meeting, Supervisor Ben Johnson submitted to the Tusten Town Board a disclosure letter in regards to his position at Narrowsburg Motor Sales .
This was after a bid opening for a pick-up was held and Narrowsburg Motors Sales was the lowest bidder in the bid process.
The disclosure stated his wife Kathleen is a partner/owner of Narrowsburg Motor Sales and the letter described his salary and how procedures are handled at the company.
“I am submitting this disclosure letter to the board since I am a employee of Narrowsburg Motor Sales and my wife and her family operate the business. Since there is a truck bid tonight, I want the board to be informed of my position at the company. The issue apparently is raising concerns and I wish these concerns were brought to me prior to this” stated Johnson.
He added, “I do not receive anything if Narrowsburg Motors is awarded low bid; my compensation has nothing to do with the awarding of a bid to them. Furthermore, the bids arrive here sealed, so I would have no knowledge of who was lowest bidder until they are all opened and after that no other bids are accepted.”
“I simply want to protect the town, and we did hold the bid openings on Friday and you were not here when they were opened,” said Councilwoman Carol Wingert. “I am just making sure that there are no conflicts if the Narrowsburg Motor Sales is the low bidder and in this case they were the lowest bid.”
Councilwoman Eileen Falk noted, “I am an aunt to the party in question; maybe I should be excused from approving the awardment tonight.”
Johnson told Falk, “I am excusing myself tonight because I am married to Kathleen, but by my research you can stay since you are only an aunt – but since I am the husband I do have to excuse myself from all of this bidding process.”
After the brief discussion period, the board did approve the bid for the new pick-up truck to Narrowsburg Motors only if the town attorney submits a letter noting that there is no conflict of interest between the Supervisor, Narrowsburg Motors and the town for the awardment.
Narrowsburg Motors bid $20,616 for the pick up and was one of 25 bidders in the process.
Kelly Home under scrutiny
Also coming before the board were concerns of residents regarding the Kelly Adult Home located on Route 97 in the town.
A local resident noted that he has a wife suffering from Alzheimer’s and a recent incident has shaken her up.
“We had one of the residents come to our door and ring our bell at 1:30 in the morning. They have over 80 people in that home and no control over them. They use our lawn as a bathroom and when you call there and complain you get the cook. This needs to be addressed.”
Water and Sewer Superintendent Scott Birney also noted that, “In regards to the home, we recently found a water leak there where they used over a million gallons of water in 90 days and they will be paying for it.”
Neighbors still rile
Narrowsburg residents Tony Ritter and Linda Slocum addressed the board regarding concerns over their neighbors.
“We came to you in October and still have no solutions. We have a neighbor with a motor bike in a residential area and it is disruptive. Dirtbikes and ATVs now occupy our neighborhood and we now have our very own Road Rally on Lake Street. This needs to be addressed,” stated Ritter.
Slocum added, “When I come home from work I just want to de-stress and how can you de-stress with a dirt bike, go-kart and everything else going on in the next door neighbor’s yard. You as the board need to address this and we have come to you before.”
Supervisor Johnson responded that, “I will be in contact with the State Troopers to see if we can get to a solution for this issue for you. This is a ongoing problem and the town board does not have the authority to close them, but I will look into the issue.”
Property tax relief, etc.
The board approved a resolution to seek tax relief for flood victims.
Supervisor Johnson noted that the New York State Legislature is proposing a tax relief program to help flood victims in which their assessment can be reviewed, but the program is only allotting 4 million dollars for the entire Sullivan County.
“In Tusten we have 46 homes effected and if we can help those people with a new assessment that would lower their taxes through this program that would be good but there is only so much money to go around,” he said.
In other business: The board noted that installation of the new playground has been stopped due to eagles residing in the area, awarded the combo dump body for the water and sewer department to Hudson River Truck and Equipment in the amount of $12,095, awarded the pump station control bid to Gale Corp. in the amount of $10,241.00, and approved May 19 as town clean up day.

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